Tag Archives: Facebook

Will SOPA curtail creativity?

by Megan Reichenbach

The Stop Online Piracy Act (also known as the Protect IP Act in the Senate) is a new initiative copyright owners are taking to “isolate and shut down websites or online services found with infringing content.”

Should we be worried?

SOPA’s primary goals seem to be legitimate, giving those artists the money they deserve for work that is being displayed online by others. The problem is that this bill has been reworked and now includes a requirement for pre-screening all user-contributed content.

In essence, we are looking at a future of broad Internet censorship . . . aka, changing the entire nature of what the Internet has become. Some even believe this act to be the “Great Firewall of America.”

The beginning

In late October 2011, the House of Representatives introduced a bill that would extend our federal government’s ability to stop foreign sites from using pirated content developed by U.S. businesses. This includes websites that steal music, videos and software from U.S. corporations.

As I noted, the initial purpose of the bill seemed reasonable. Many people illegally download music, films and television series rather than paying the 99 cents to download from iTunes. In reality, such stinginess is leaving those music producers and filmmakers with empty pockets.

It’s estimated that Hollywood studios and record labels are losing up to a $135 billion a year from piracy alone.

But, eradicating domain names all together may “disrupt the way the Internet is designed to work today and put too much of a burden on search engines and Internet service providers in blocking suspected sites.”

The SOPA buzz

It’s no secret that SOPA has been the ongoing gossip in the cyber world. The bill suggests that those individuals and companies that publish about or link to others’ works may be accused of piracy.

This would include all of us who retweet, post or even write about another person’s publication. According to an infographic on Mashable.com, “sites you visit may be blocked, email providers may be forced to censor certain links you send or receive” and “the links and content you share on social networks will be carefully monitored and possibly censored.”

I just have one question . . . where are my privacy rights?

A threat to our future?

SOPA also threatens the future of job searching and innovation through online techniques. Sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook have recently been job searchers’ platforms for getting their names into the industry market.

Unlike traditional resume builders, LinkedIn, a professional social media site, allows individuals to offer links to personal sites such as Twitter and Facebook accounts, upload professional résumés and add photos to your profile.

Are we all going to have to resort back to the simple résumés built on Microsoft Word? This limit on creativity could be the catalyst for never getting that dream job.

Those of us searching for a job in this ever-so-difficult market need to have the ability to put our names out there in ways that show off our individuality. The sites Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have given us that opportunity.

In retaliation to the serious risk the bill is imposing, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo and Zynga sent a letter to the U.S. Congress voicing their concerns.

These companies respect the goal of enforcing additional tactics to combat illegitimate copyright and counterfeit sites. But, they urge the legislators to “preserv[e] the innovation and dynamism that [have] made the Internet such an important driver of economic growth and job creation.”

Instead of tweeting about Kourtney Kardashian’s recent pregnancy announcement or who will play in the national college football championship, maybe we should all be concerned with the direction the Internet is going. Are all of our posts, tweets and blog postings going to be accused of counterfeit?


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Twitter to the Rescue!

By Jaclyn McNeil

On April 27th, a massive tornado sent horror throughout Tuscaloosa within minutes and left many without power for weeks. At one time, a citywide power outage would mean no communication with anyone who was not within arm distance. Now, the lack of power due to a natural disaster shines light on the power of social media. Within minutes of the tornado destruction, with conventional telephone lines down or overwhelmed in Tuscaloosa, Twitter feeds were flooded with citizen reporting — often, false and exaggerated reporting, which fueled fears of the unknown.

In a TIME Magazine article, Amanda Ripley, a TIME contributor and author of the book The Unthinkable: Who Survives in Disasters and Why, points out that as with anything on the Web, social media can breed rumors and inaccuracies that could hurt recovery efforts.

“Anything that exacerbates that tendency — texting, taking pictures, tweeting — can be dangerous,” said Ripley.

But in the wake of the storm, Twitter and Facebook communication has done more good than harm in the correspondence of disaster relief. Twitter accounts and Facebook pages were created to give up-to-date volunteer directions, clothing and food donation drop-off sites and shelter needs.

“I followed @UA_Greek_Relief  as soon as I got home from Birmingham after leaving Tuscaloosa,” said Leah Middlebrook, a senior at The University of Alabama. “Their tweets informed me of exactly what I needed to bring back with me to help volunteer and gave directions for drop-off.”

According to UA Greek Relief, the group has raised $180,000 and at times was responsible for over 1/3 of the total relief hot meals prepared and distributed throughout Tuscaloosa.

Social media has allowed people to communicate efficiently in order to organize disaster relief unlike any other communication platform before. Real-time Twitter updates allow for immediate action, as opposed to the conventional news outlets.

In March, Twitter and Facebook were vital after the Japan earthquake. Via these sites, people all around the world were informed and updated on the earthquake’s damage and able to check in on their friends and family in Japan. The Japan earthquake was the first major disaster of a developed nation in this powerful age of social media.

Beat Communication Co., Ltd., the largest provider of social networking packages in Japan, conducted research on social media usage before and after the March 11th earthquake in Japan.

Not surprisingly, the research showed that the use of mobile phones and email increased in the aftermath of the earthquake. Surpassing the use of more conventional modes of communication was the use of social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, U-Stream, YouTube and mixi (a Japanese social networking site).

According to the research by Beat Communication Co., Ltd., 70 percent of respondents used Twitter, 38 percent used Facebook, 22 percent used U-Stream, 16 percent used YouTube, 16 percent used intra-corporate social networking sites (such as enterprise 2.0 or Intranet) and 12 percent used mixi.

The research also shows that the use of social media changed due to the earthquake: the percentage of respondents who use Twitter in order to gain information faster increased from 56 percent to 71 percent. According to Mashable, less than an hour after the earthquake, the number of tweets coming from Tokyo were topping 1,200 per minute.

This research shows that Twitter’s real-time news feeds surpass all other social networking sites.

“The biggest part of using social media during a disaster is that it’s not about the government helping the public; it’s about the public helping themselves,” said Kim Stephens, a senior associate at Abt Associates and an emergency-management expert. “Before, you were left trying to find out how to get what you need, and now the desire and need is matched quickly and easily. It’s peer-to-peer aid.”

Broadcast media gives global audiences an understanding of what is taking place during a natural disaster and social media provides the underlying picture.

Jesse Green, executive director of the Tokyo office for PR firm Hill & Knowlton, used Twitter to connect with his family, friends and co-workers after the quake.

“Many of my friends, my wife included, joined Twitter just to keep up with all the breaking news and to be a part of the conversation where possible,” said Green.

With telephone lines out or overwhelmed during most natural disasters, Internet connections often remain usable, making texts and tweets the easiest mode of communication.

In April, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that it is revising its terrorism-advisory system to include alerts that would be sent over social networking sites.

Social media has played an integral role in the Now Generation. With natural disasters requiring real-time updates, social media enables peer-to-peer communication and rallies together relief efforts like nothing we’ve seen before.

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Google+: The New Facebook?

By Jaclyn McNeil

If you’re like me, you’ve had your Facebook profile for a while. I created my Facebook profile sophomore year of high school; I have way more friends than is humanly possible to call actual friends. That reminds me: I’ve been meaning to “trim the fat” on my friend list.

Through the years I’ve upped my privacy controls but I still feel as though I have over-shared and overstayed my welcome on Facebook. Then along came Twitter. I was skeptical at first, but the more I used it the less I found myself on Facebook. It may be because I am pickier about whom I follow and who follows me. In a sense, I have under-shared on Twitter. Now Google+ has come along—could it be the perfect marriage between Facebook and Twitter?

Let’s go into what makes Google+ different than Facebook and Twitter. Google+ has created the concept of virtual social circles. When you befriend someone, you place them in the social circle to which they belong. There are circles for friends, family, classmates, co-workers and custom groups. When you create a post, you select which circle of friends you’d like to see it. No more worrying about offending your mom.

The Google+ Hangout creates rooms for your social circles to meet up and video chat. Once the hangout goes live, it will prompt in your friends’ stream. Then your friends can join the hangout until the maximum 10 people have joined.

One of the more interesting features of Google+ is its engine used for finding content that you are interested in called Sparks. Google+ Sparks is a collection of articles, videos, photos and other interests. Your “sparks” will show up in the stream, which is similar to Facebook’s news feed—a flow of information that is shared by your friends.

“Sparks is essentially the stuff that flows to you through the interest graph and the stream is the stuff that flows to you through the social graph,” said Andrew Tomkins, a top search engineer for Google.

If Google uses its expertise in search quality, it will be able to streamline its feeds to be more relevant and interesting to users than the Facebook news feed. If this possibility transpires, then businesses could use Google+ to target users in a more direct manner than Facebook.

But businesses need to hold out before creating a Google+ profile. In a post by Google+, Product Manager Christian Oestlien asks businesses to be patient while the Google+ team creates a unique experience for businesses.

“How users communicate with each other is different from how they communicate with brands, and we want to create an optimal experience for both,” said Oestlien.

The Google+ team plans to run a small experiment with a few marketing partners to see the effect of including brands on Google+.

Can Google capture the social media and business world? It’s not the first time the search giant has given social media a whirl. In 2007, Google spearheaded a project called OpenSocial to create a standard for social networking. The project fell short of goals mainly because Facebook withheld its cooperation.

In 2009, Google released its next attempt at the social world with Buzz, which integrated Facebook and Twitter into Gmail. Buzz created a social network from users’ Gmail contacts, which fueled fears that Google was sharing too much information about its users. This glitch, mixed with a lack of buzz about Buzz, sent Google back to the drawing boards and Facebook reined king.

That brings us to Google’s newest social media venture, and don’t think Facebook is going to take this lying down. Earlier this summer Facebook hired PR firm Burson-Marsteller to run a smear campaign against Google. USA Today reports that Burson-Marsteller, a top-five public relations firm, contacted a variety of media outlets to run stories and editorials about how the Google Gmail feature Social Circle tramples the privacy of millions of Americans and violates federal fair trade rules.

Chris Gaither, Google’s senior manager of global communications and public affairs, deflected the PR firm’s attack of Gmail privacy.

“We have seen this e-mail reportedly sent by a representative of the PR firm Burson-Marsteller. We’re not going to comment further. Our focus is on delighting people with great products,” said Gaither.

I have a sneaking suspicion that it is no coincidence Facebook’s smear campaign against Google took place just two months before the release of Google+. I think the battle between the two will continue to get ugly.

Only time will tell if Google+ can successfully combine the features of Facebook and Twitter. If it can do both and create a solid platform for businesses, Google+ may rein king.


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Social media v. Casey Anthony

By Jaclyn McNeil

Casey Anthony was found #notguilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in the trial that became this summer’s most watched reality TV show. The verdict was tweeted, retweeted, facebooked and blogged, mostly with outrage and disbelief. The media and public had already reached a verdict in the case long before the trial even began: guilty.

The social media world was captivated by the case and trial. Twitter accounts were created to give live feed of the trial throughout the day including OSCaseyAnthony, managed by the Orlando Sentinel, and NinthCircuitFL, managed by the 9th Judicial Circuit Court.

News coverage of the case by reporters Greta Van Susteran, Nancy Grace, Bill O’Reilly, Shep Smith and Geraldo Rivera aired around the clock with almost all bias toward the guilt of the accused, Casey Anthony. The lack of evidence did not seem to sway the media or the public’s opinion. Although the trial is over, the social media trial of Casey is not. TIME magazine  has coined the trial as “The Social Media Trial of the Century.” The day the verdict was announced 325,283 Twitter posts about the case were made with “not guilty” appearing 20,000 times.

In the courthouse of Twitter and Facebook Casey Anthony is guilty. And that is what makes this case and trial so unique: the public has followed the case and trial through media outlets and announced their verdict in a public platform through social media.

Eric Dunning, a communication and justice theory instructor for the Department of Communication Studies at The University of Alabama, believes that social media has revolutionized the way people respond to criminal cases.

“The media creates a virtual town square, and the general public becomes an extension of the media as citizen journalists on social media,” said Dunning.

Social media allows people to gain rapid information and rapid response. The public’s disbelief of the verdict was likely a result of the misleading information from the media.

“The media made the prosecution seem better than it was, so naturally viewers were shocked by the result,” said Dunning. “Shows stir up controversy; the media needs a convenient villian and a great storyline.”

So what is the next step for Casey Anthony? Crisis management public relations expert Glenn Selig, founder of the PR firm The Publicity Agency, represented lead defense attorney Jose Baez. In an article for PR NewsChannel Selig comments on the Casey Anthony case, the potential money that may be made and defending clients to the public.

“If big money comes from anywhere, it will be from the entertainment world–movies and books–where payment is commonplace. And the less of the story that is told now, the more valuable a book or movie deal will be,” said Selig.

If the public finds out that Casey Anthony is making money off of an interview, what is the potential backlash a network may receive? Is it worth the risk?

One thing can be certain: book deals and interviews will be made and there are many candidates. Juror number 6 has hired PR firm French/West/Vaughn. According to the New York Times a network executive said the fee to talk to juror number 6 was $50,000.

“That could be a book by itself and you could make the argument that because they arrived at the verdict they did, their story is now worth more than it would have been had they found her guilty,” said Selig.

The public is fascinated by this case, and a book deal or interview with juror members would attract a lot of attention. The public backlash may be minimal for jurors since they have no direct association with the Anthony family.

However, as Selig points out, “Whoever is looking to make money on this needs to be very careful because just talking about capitalizing on the death of a child feels dirty.”

Casey will likely make some sort of formal appearance or book deal in spite of Selig’s warning. When she gets out of jail she will probably be shunned by most of the public and will run into the arms of the media. We have made Casey Anthony a celebrity, whether we like it or not.

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BP’s Perfect Storm, One Year Later

By: Miriam Fry

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which has been recorded as the largest oil spill in U.S. history. The scope of damage from this spill surpassed even the Exxon-Valdez spill of 1989. The minute Transocean’s oil rig exploded, BP had a PR challenge on hand. Has BP conquered it?

If having an estimated 172 million gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf with your company’s name on it isn’t enough of a PR blunder to overcome, BP had an increasingly difficult time capping the well, and 11 employees, who were working on the rig, died when it exploded. Each of these events serves as a substantial PR challenge, but when all three are combined, the situation becomes a perfect storm of PR challenges.

From July to August 2010, BP tripled its advertising budget to $93 million in an attempt to recover its ruined reputation. Investing in PR was a major financial decision for BP, but did it work?

Well, it will take more than a year to tell, but overall, BP appears to be committed to letting Gulf Coast residents know that the company takes full responsibility for what happened, along with government mandates … what more can BP be expected to do?

The PR campaign consists of traditional news releases, a new website tab titled “Gulf of Mexico Restoration” and financial statements. Perhaps the most direct tactic was the hiring of unemployed residents from Baldwin and Mobile counties in south Alabama to help with the cleanup process.

In addition, the company utilized traditional social media with Twitter, Facebook and a YouTube Channel, all of which increased transparency. The YouTube videos address the situation from the residents’ points of view and are titled “Voices from the Gulf.” The most recent video features Bryan and Brook Zar, owners of Restaurant des Families in Crown Point, La.

Bryan Zar notes that “[BP] stuck by the region, and kept our communities working.” The video points out that the Zars were not compensated for their appearance, ensuring that there is no speculation that BP paid actors to imitate Gulf Coast residents. BP was able to catch candid accounts of what residents thought, which is invaluable to its PR efforts.

As today’s anniversary approached, BP released a video titled “A Year of Change” to illustrate what the company has been doing for the residents of the Gulf Coast. The video begins with an apology from Bob Dudley, the new CEO of BP, in which he says BP “is committed to earning your trust back.” The video details what happened on April 20, 2010, when the rig exploded, as well as every effort to cap it for the three months that followed. The cleanup process is also featured with a tug-on-heart strings as we see pelicans being bathed to rid them of oil.

The video is seemingly transparent, detailed and honest — three words that all PR practitioners value in their work.

The $93 million dollar investment in BP’s PR was just the beginning of its reputation makeover. It has made its message known, and it has opened itself up to not only residents of the Gulf Coast, but the entire country.

What do you think of BP’s PR tactics?

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Does Calvin Klein know PR? Part One

by Aman Judge

CK One, ring a bell anyone?

Taking full advantage of one of its most successful campaigns from the 1990s, Calvin Klein is revamping its approach to the consumer. CK One, the name of its most popular unisex fragrance, may soon become a global digital campaign.

Since the early 1990s, Calvin Klein’s image has suffered. This can be attributed to the unimpressive advertisements that were put out. With the popularity of sensual ads during this time, Calvin Klein’s ads were “lost in the fog.

In an attempt to appeal to a younger consumer and to regain popularity throughout the world, Calvin Klein is taking this brand to the next level. This time, the Calvin Klein brand is assuring that they get it right.

The company is approaching the campaign with digital media and the younger generation in mind. Not only has the brand created cell phone applications and advertisements, but it will also be utilizing social media to the fullest.

Klein is turning to what has worked for years in the PR field: two-way communication. With this implementation of social media, Calvin Klein will allow customers to interact more with the brand. They can put up video of themselves and talk about the brand on the CK One website. Customers can also interact on other social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Ren Ren and Weibo, which are popular in China, are utilized for international customers. Most importantly, the campaign engages consumers by having cast members, who are Calvin Klein representatives, propose questions on the website and social media outlets.

These tactics exemplify public relations at its best. The campaign prompts consumers to attract new customers by sharing their positive experiences. Not only will Calvin Klein continue its traditional avenues of advertisement, it is taking advantage of new avenues and creating an integrated marketing campaign.

The only thing to do now is to wait until the campaign is launched to see if Klein utilizes these avenues properly. After March 1, we will find out if Klein actually embraces this two-way communication, even if it isn’t always positive.


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Pauly D Does NOT Approve This Message

By Hannah McDaniel

The current generation of consumers is unlike any other. Generation Y does not know how to handle positive reinforcement, and most of us respond best to negative criticism. We are fine with product placement — but do not tell us what to buy. It’s about time major corporations grasped this strategy as a way of communication.

Kraft Foods launched a Miracle Whip campaign Tuesday that embodies both sides. The advertisements embrace argumentation, blast their product, and then ask the consumer to judge for themselves.

The results have been overwhelmingly positive: lovers currently outweigh haters nine to one.

And to top it off, Gen-Y superstar Pauly D from MTV’s “Jersey Shore” makes several appearances throughout the campaign.

Kraft created a campaign using social media as a forum for its debate. On Miracle Whip’s YouTube page, consumers can share their testimonials of the product. Users can also request a free sample of the “not so mayo” sandwich spread.

On its Facebook page,  Miracle Whip asks lovers to share their love of the spread in exchange for a coupon.

But Kraft isn’t the first to use criticism as a means of advertisement.

Domino’s Pizza has been using this tactic for months now. Its campaign features photos of visually unsatisfying pizzas (sent in by consumers), focus groups that blast its former pizza recipe and commercials of hunted-down consumers trying its new pizza.

As a result, Domino’s Pizza stock continues to rise, growing from its lowest point in over a year from $10.29 (June 2010), to its highest point just a few days ago at $17.55.

Thus far, Miracle Whip’s social media campaign allows the company to gauge its consumers for next to nothing, cost-wise. Plus, the two-way communication created from the campaign allows its patrons to be heard.

Public relations practitioners should take note of the success of Kraft and Domino’s. We are trained to toot our own horn. Kraft and Domino’s, however, are letting their customers do it for them. This strategy creates a more credible brand, reinforcing their reputations for quality. Most importantly, their clients feel like they matter.

What other brands have used unconventional tactics as a way to increase sales?


Filed under The Industry, Trends